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Cold Lake wants worker cap increased

Businesses in Cold Lake region of Alberta are in desperate need of warm bodies to fill vacancies in local industries.

According to a report published in the Bonnyville Nouvelle today, business leaders in the region want the number of temporary foreign workers brought into the province every year under the provincial nominee program to be increased from the current cap of 5,000 workers.

The program is designed to bring workers with the “skills education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them,” according Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Despite the unemployment rate, fast food franchises and other businesses offering low-tier service industry jobs are finding it difficult to hire workers.

In some cases, closing is the only option, according the report.

Alberta minister of employment and immigration Thomas Lukaszuk visited the community to discuss the labour shortage.

Lukaszuk told the Nouvelle that the program policy of allowing only one provincial nominee (foreign worker) per business is intended to ensure that the provincial quota is shared around to needy businesses.

However, the Nouvelle reported that Lukaszuk said that he could reach the cap of 5,000 workers in the first two to three months of every year.

Business leaders told the Nouvelle that foreign workers coming to Alberta should be able to invite their spouses and children after six months and that the one year duration of the worker’s stay should be extended to two or three.

Lukaszuk said the labour shortage is a common phenomenon around Alberta and that he would take the position of Alberta on the matter to the Federal Government.

In August, demands from Western provinces persuaded the Federal government to increase the numbers of foreign workers allowed into Canada under the provincial nominee program, according to a Vancouver Sun report.

Alberta’s current cap of 5,000 positions was increased from 4,400. B.C.’s current cap of 3,500 was increased from 3,200, according to the report.

Justin Langille reports for The Tyee

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